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  • On the Scene: Maglione Victory in Budapest FINA Election


    (ATR) Julio Maglione wins an overwhelming victory for a third term as president of international swimming federation FINA.

    Julio Maglione, re-elected as FINA president. (ATR)
    The vote was 258-77 in Budapest.

    Italian Swimming Federation President Paolo Barelli was the only challenger for Maglione. Barelli was elected to one of the five vice presidential posts, but was rebuffed in his hope of taking on the first vice president slot held by the controversial Husain Al Musallam of Kuwait.

    FINA member nations chose to keep the status quo after a dirty election roiled the aquatic sports.

    Each of the 176 member nations had two votes at the FINA General Congress held at the Intercontinental Hotel on the sidelines of the World Championships.

    Maglione, the 81-year-old president from Uruguay won with 77 percent of the vote, a victory that was as convincing as swimming star Katie Ledecky in the 1,500-meter freestyle.

    He was jubilant following the vote, hugging his supporters.

    Asked about a rumor that he planned to step down after a year and be replaced by Al Musallam, , Maglione retorted, “You must be crazy, I was elected for four years. If my health continues like this, no way.”

    He added that he respected the countries that voted for him “in a very clear secret ballot; I have the responsibility to be here four years.”

    The FINA press conference with VPs Sam Ramsamy, Husain Al Musallam and President Julio Maglione. (ATR)
    Al Musallam has attracted attention over reports he is linked to the ongoing investigation into corruption at FIFA and that he negotiated for a commission. Those claims arise from his position as director general of the Olympic Council of Asia.

    There have been a flurry of media reports this week rekindling the controversy.

    “This is only allegation,” said Al Musallam.

    “I am sportsman and the Olympic Council of Asia ethics committee and FINA ethics committee, they did an investigation and there was no wrongdoing or anything.

    “People think I am bad. People think I am good. This is normal. We are human at the end of the day. Let’s enjoy the championships now. The sport authority has already discussed this. They investigate it thoroughly, they look into everything.”

    There were only eight votes opposed when the slate of Asian candidates were passed by a show of cards.

    “All the countries voted here, not even a single objection,” Al Musallam said. “So the people decide.”

    He said that the mandate for Maglione was a result of him doing “a great job in the last eight years” and that aquatics has reached “very high standards.”

    With the addition of three new events, FINA will have 49 events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which is more than any other international federation. Athletics has 48.

    Maglione became president in 2009 and his age and statements at the time indicated he would only serve one term. But he subsequently abolished term limits and age restrictions, which Barelli would have brought back.

    Barelli held his own press conference after the Congress and was flanked by more than a dozen somber European delegates on the LEN Bureau.

    Paolo Barelli is one of the five FINA vice presidents elected at the Budapest meeting. (ATR)
    “We hope that FINA can go with a different speed in the future,”Barelli said. “I think that the activities that we proposed in the last months can help FINA understand they have to change the speed and the direction.”

    He said FINA still has “big problems” with governance and Maglione’s leadership at the top and said that FINA should not keep so much money in reserve when member federations need it for development.

    Barelli stressed that LEN wants a positive outcome and the best for its athletes, coaches and the FINA family.

    “We are sure that if the leadership continue to be weak, it’s very possible infection can enter inside our institution,” he said. “What we want is to avoid this.”

    He was disappointed that he did not get to speak to the membership before the election for president. A FINA delegate proposed having all candidates give speeches, but the membership voted no.

    “We have an election and not a campaign,” said Mark Joseph, president of Philippine Swimming, adding that they know the candidates. “We have had cocktails with them.”

    But Barelli said he had not met, for example, the president of the Togo swimming federation. When Barelli asked Francois Carrard, the former IOC director general who was running the elections, for permission to speak, Carrard said the membership had already decided against it.

    The five vice presidents were then tasked with determining who would be first VP and who would become second VP.

    “It was only a couple of seconds, the story was already written,” Barelli said. “Four of the five (voted Al Musallam), the fifth me.”

    Sam Ramsamy of South Africa was second vice president.

    Joe Caruana Curran, president of the
    No more synchronized swimming. Artistic swimming is the new name for the discipline.
    swimming federation in Malta, said he questioned Al Mussalam’s eligibility for his post and was promised a full accounting of the reasons why. He still has not received it.

    However, Maglione said it was a “crystal clear Congress” and “democratic 100 percent.” He had a contentious exchange with Craig Lord of the Times of London, who asked him to defend awarding FINA’s highest honor to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

    One of the only changes remarked on in 23 pages of constitutional amendments was the change of the name “synchronized swimming” to “artistic swimming.” A delegate from Aruba questioned the change, and FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu said it was done to help boost its popularity and understanding with the public. Asked if research had been done, Marculescu abruptly closed the subject.

    Before the Congress, there were rumblings around the hotel about it being “terrible” what was happening between LEN, the European swimming federation, and FINA.

    Afterward, Al Musallam said there was no rift between FINA and the Europeans. “We have no problem with anybody,” he said. “FINA and LEN is one family. At the end of the day, this is all a family gathering.

    “Let’s now think about celebrating more of the swimming events and let’s enjoy seeing our athletes compete in a very nice atmosphere and we give them our support to do hopefully the best performance and looking forward for new world records.”

    FINA Bureau elections

    From Africa, Sam Ramsamy of South Africa, Mohomed Diop of Senegal, Mario Fernandes of Angola and Donald Rukare of Uganda won another term on the bureau as continental candidates and Zouheir El Moufti of Morocco was the only at-large candidate from the region.

    Maglione, Dale Neuburger of the United States, Margo Mountjoy of Canada Algernon Cargill of the Bahamas, Errol Clarke of Barbados (continental) and Juan Carlos Orihuela Garcete (at-large) were elected from the Americas and Dennis Miller of Fiji and Matthew Dunn of Australia will represent Oceania.

    In voting for Asia, the four continental candidates were Al Musallam, Pipat Paniangvait of Thailand, Daichi Suzuki of Japan and Andrey Kryukov of Kazakhstan.

    Three candidates were vying for the two at-large positions. Taha Al Kishry of Oman and Jihong Zhou of China were the top vote-getters, eliminating Mohsen Rezvani of Iran.

    Barelli, David Sparkes of Great Britain, Tamas Gyarfas of Hungary and Dimitrios Diathesopoulos won continental positions on the bureau. With four candidates applying for two at-large spots, Christa Thiel was the first eliminated. Midway through the second ballot, Fernando Carpena of Spain notified Marculescu that he was withdrawing, leaving Vladimir Salnikov of Russia and Erik Van Heijningen of the Netherlands as the winner

    Reported in Budapest by Karen Rosen.

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